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Discography : View all tracks

Original Rockers: The Return of Aquasky
Words: Kingsley Marshall

In the unpredictable world of drum & bass it remains rare for a crew to stay at the top of their game for more than six months, yet the producers behind Aquasky have been making music for close to ten years. Having built their reputation through twelves for Moving Shadow and Reinforced through the first half of the nineties, they managed to survive the fallout from a slow burning deal with Polydor - bouncing back in 1998 with their 'Bodyshock' and follow up remix album 'Aftershock'.

Two years on from this uprising and producers behind the project Dave Wallace, Kieron Bailey and Brent Newitt, have twelves creeping through on several labels as well as launching their own Sonix imprint. Kingsley Marshall caught up with Dave at the trio's Bournemouth studio.

Dave explains the swathe of recent activity. "We figured we'd branch out a bit. One thing that we've learnt is to not have all our eggs in one basket and these days you really can't afford to. We've got something coming out on Tribe and Aspect approached us to do something - I can't remember exactly how it all happened but essentially we'd written a couple of instrumentals and Jon Skinner at the label suggested we use one of their singers on the track. We thought it was a great idea and Jenny Burrell came down to our studio to lay down the vocal for 'You Got Me'."

Their own label came about through a surplus of material. "It was just a case of having a lot of stuff which we wanted to get out there," elaborates Dave. "We're obviously doing records for Shadow but you can't expect a single label to accept all your tunes. As an example, the four tracks for the recent MSX EP were picked out from an original seven or eight that we had sent them. We'd known Chris Parkinson at ST Holdings and had heard how he was starting some artist lead labels and liked the sound of returning to the original ethic of a small operation getting records out there quickly without any middle men. Essentially we just give him the tracks and he deals with the rest of it with the minimum of hassle."

Like BLIM, Zinc and Hidden Agenda the threesome have also recently cracked the new breaks scene. "We've always enjoyed different breakbeat styles, especially with the recent resurgence in the old school type flavour. It struck us as healthy to try doing other things as well as it being hard to just record one type of music, five days a week. We wound up our downtempo label Passenger a while ago but Botchit and Scarper picked up on a couple of tracks we'd done and released a single a while ago. More recently we contributed a track with a local MC for their recent album and have our second twelve entitled '777' coming out for them in a few weeks."

With a decade in drum & bass under his belt, Dave has seen a lot of changes though remains enthusiastic. "With all of the software tools available now, it is possible to knock up a piece of music with just a little knowledge and a PC and as such there are a lot of dodgy tunes about but sales have always been a case of survival of the fittest. As far as I'm concerned each track should be taken on its merits as opposed to discriminating between the people who have been in it for a long time and those who haven't. Of course experience counts for something but the door has to be left open to new artists as that's how this music has retained a lot of its momentum."

Continuing he says, "Although occasionally you'll see someone come through with a new sound, more often than not a producer who has been deemed flavour of the month finds it hard to follow that initial buzz with anything substantial. When it comes down to what we have to offer, it's quite hard to pin down but I guess it's the same as we always have, just a little harder and faster than before." Laughing he adds, "We all lived together until the summer which helps us in times of while getting on each others nerves now and again, the three of us share a general interest in music and we would continually be bouncing ideas off each other."

Other activities include a website which features information studio tips, audio of new tracks (often before they surface on promo) in addition to plenty of darts content. "If there are any crews who want to challenge us to darts get in touch," laughs Dave before adding, more seriously. "I think if someone had said five years ago that we'd still be doing this I think I would have been a little sceptical, but it all comes down to drum and bass still being THE underground breakbeat music of the UK - there's nothing out there even similar to it."

Catch the crew online at